The recent turbulence in the tech sector hasn’t made much of an impact on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Then again, it’s usually not a good idea to bet against the company. Since October, the AMZN stock price has gone from $966 to $1,179.
Now, this does not mean there aren’t any significant risks that could derail the momentum. AMZN is involved in many disparate businesses — which could mean getting distracted. This is even more worrisome since the competitive environment is intensifying. Let’s face it, companies are trying to make sure they don’t get “Amazoned”.
Just look at Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT). During the past few years, the company has invested heavily in its e-commerce platform, with smart acquisitions and delivery options. The result is that growth is starting to pick up along with the stock price, which is up a sizzling 40% in 2017.
And, yes, another important risk factor for Amazon stock is its nose-bleed valuation. Consider that the current forward price-to-earnings ratio is 144.
So then, what now? Should investors avoid AMZN stock? Or is there still more room on the upside? Well, I think the bull case is still intact, primarily because the company will continue to see robust growth from key mega-trends.
Let’s take a look:
Advantage #1 for AMZN Stock: E-Commerce
Even though the e-commerce market has been around for more than two decades, there are few signs that the growth will decelerate any time soon. Some of the drivers include convenience, vast improvements in delivery, the ubiquity of smartphones and home speakers and personalization.
Yet, AMZN has some major advantages, such as a top-of-mind brand, extensive partnerships, a rock-solid infrastructure and the Prime service. All these are extremely tough to replicate.
In light of all this, it should be no surprise that AMZN stock should get supercharged from the holiday shopping season. According to InvestorPlace.com’s Luke Lango, “In addition to adding 120,000 temporary workers to help fulfill orders, Amazon is also cutting prices on items sold by third-party sellers, rolling out an Etsy Inc (NASDAQ:ETSY) competitor, and discounting ultra-popular smart home products. All together, the moves set up Amazon to have a dominant holiday 2017 sales showing.”
Advantage #2 for AMZN Stock: The Cloud
The AWS (Amazon Web Services) segment, which provides cloud services, continues to grow at a fast pace and throw off substantial cash flows. During the latest quarter, revenues jumped by 42% to $4.58 billion and operating income came to $1.17 billion. The cloud business has essentially allowed AMZN to aggressively invest in multiple businesses.
It’s true that other mega-tech companies are catching up, such as Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG). And Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) has been waging a price war to capture market share.
Yet low cost is often not the deciding factor when it comes to cloud computing. Customers want features, like security, machine learning, analytics and reliable up-time — all of which are hallmarks of the AWS platform.
Advantage #3 for AMZN Stock: AI (Artificial Intelligence)
This is the year that AI got on the map for investors, as seen with the huge gains in companies like NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA).
AMZN has also been a leader in this technology. It certainly helps that it can test AI against its massive user base. But the company has also been bold with its hardware. Back in 2014, AMZN launched its Echo, which has quickly dominated the market, introducing people to the wonders of AI. At the core of this is Alexa, which is the brain. As more people use it, the system gets smarter and smarter.
For the most part, AI is still in the early innings and should be a durable driver of growth for AMZN stock. After all, according to research from IDC, spending on this technology is expected to soar from $8 billion in 2016 to a whopping $47 billion by 2020.
Tom Taulli is the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.